Thursday, October 8, 2009

PSSST: wanna hear a secret?

Attention moms:

I have found the secret to maternal serenity, and it can be found in the candy aisle at your local grocery.

Who'da thunk the key to living calmly with children under the age of 35 was a small, chocolate-based treat I had always known and loved? M&M Mars has created the source of all familial goodness and light, but they don't tout it in their advertisements, which seems a real shame, since I'm sure their stock prices would go through the roof if this caught on. (Dear M&M Mars, if the afore-mentioned scenario DOES take place, I'm staking my claim to a share of the profits now. I'll call you with details later.)

Here's the scoop: I have always understood the link between M&Ms and enhanced performance. In college, my standard procedure for taking tests was to run to the bookstore, purchase a half-pound bag of M&Ms--any variety, but my preference was for peanut butter--and consume the whole bag in the hour before the test, while sitting in the hall outside the classroom and reciting the mantra, "You can do this and you'd better do well, because if you don't you'll look like a big fat idiot. SO DON'T SCREW UP!" On the occasions when I followed this pattern(which increased in frequency as I noticed the correlation between M&M consumption and test-taking success), I never earned below a B+. Seriously. I owe my grade-point average (but not my current weight--that's a separate issue) to the candy aisle of the BYU Bookstore.

I had no idea a similar magic could work on my children. But it does.

Every morning I dole out ten magic candy-coated pellets into each egg cup--one per child, because anything else would be illogical, and motherhood is all about logic. And temporary insanity. Throughout the day, as those same egg-cup-claiming children act up or misbehave or induce me to rip out large chunks of bodily hair (mine, typically), I remove one M&M from the offending child's egg cup and eat it. Notice I take only one M&M per offense. I try not to abuse the system. I might extend the punishment to two, maybe, if the breach is particularly heinous. (Like leaving your underwear in the family room after being asked THREE TIMES to put them away. That's a major--and unfortunately, daily--offense in this house. I'm just telling you in the interests of warning an innocent public: should you visit, please do not look too closely under couches, if you know what I mean.) In this manner, the child is warned and punished and learns to feel the disappointing effects of disobedience. (Doesn't that sound wonderfully gospel-related? I'm working on it.) and I get a small taste of heaven to soothe my ruffled temper. At the end of the day, children who have not sent their mother permnently around the bend get the remaining M&Ms for dessert. Call it a win-win situation. At least on most days. I can imagine a truly horrible day when the children drive me to the utter edge of sanity and back multiple times, and I might on such an occassion end up eating all their M&Ms and then finish up the bag for a final shame-inducing encore, thereby creating a win-win-"Oh dear goodness, how am I going to lose all this weight" situation. But that one is safely still in the future. So far.

And there you have it; all your maternal frustrations and discipline problems solved in one easy formula: M&Ms = parental sanity + improved offspring obedience (and excellent test-taking skills).

Remember, you heard it here first. (I may be asking you to testify if the whole intellectual-rights infringement thing goes awry.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Robot Day!

What? You've never heard of Robot Day?

I'm shocked and a little dismayed by that. And I'm sure Charlie is crushed. Because it was his idea in the first place.

The whole thing started on Monday--that was only three days ago, and even in the age of instant communication it still takes a while for ideas to spread and grab hold of public imagination. (Unless the information is something truly disgusting and utterly unspeakable, in which case it will pop up in every email box in the world about ten seconds after its creator sends it out to eight hundred of his very best buds.)

So, to fill in those of you who haven't received your Robot Day cards yet, Robot Day is a Charlie-created holiday to celebrate mechanical and electronic forms of skill and ability. He's a boy. And he's six. It was highly unlikely that he would choose to celebrate ponies.

It started with a school assignment to design a new holiday. He got to pick the day of year--and what were the chances that he would pick a date six months from now? (Boys cannot comprehend the idea of delayed gratification. It's a genetic trait. They get it from their fathers.) He chose the decoration scheme: red light to symbolize lasers, and robot streamers--which will probably eventually turn out to be toilet paper festively decorated with random marker-generated blobs. He even had the opportunity to choose the soon-to-be-traditional foods for the holiday. (Subway sandwiches--maybe because subs are built using robotic assemblers?--and chips. I'd like to say the chips were because of the use of computer chips in building and controlling robots. But it's far more likely that he chose them because it's a good excuse to eat something that I typically don't allow. Ha! I'm sneaky too, and served apple chips as part of breakfast. Who's tricky now, huh?)

Now you know--go ahead and mark your calendars for next year. There are only 364 shopping days left.

A few scenes from our Robot Day festivities

Yeah, I know red lights are the appropriate decoration, but I haven't hit the after-Robot-Day sales yet. Plus it was six-thirty, and I wasn't going to do more storage-room diving than absolutely necessary to make my son's dreams come true.

The construction of the traditional Robot Day costume--a nice twist added by Roberto at six thirty-two this morning. I suspect that next year's costume may be slightly more elaborate.

The wearing of the robot costume

Another Robot Day entertainment: watching one's baby getting a buzz from gnawing on the traditional red lights' cord. (Please let it be known that I did not take a picture while said baby was in imminent danger. The child has no teeth. It would take him a year to gnaw into anything that could zap-fry him. And by then he probably would have lost interest.)